Taking a moment to catch my breath before my next flight, I was reflecting on comments made during last week’s meeting of the North American Horticultural Suppliers Association, otherwise known as NAHSA. This group of manufacturers and distributors is always a delight to interact with and, as usual, I ended up learning a great deal from networking with the group and the other invited speakers. Here are a few tidbits from the meeting:
- Our economy will recover (because it always has) and because Americans work harder than any other developed country in the world.
- “It ain’t what we know that hurts us; it’s what we know that ain’t so!”
- Humans have a special bond with plants (and animals) that speaks well for the future of our industry.
- Over the next six years, the largest transfer of wealth in history will take place as the Great Depression generation will be leaving (literally) a HUGE sum of retirement savings and assets. They were focused on the lowest rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — that is, survival — and they spend considerable less than other demographic segments. As this transfer of wealth takes place, subsequent generations that are more oriented towards Maslow’s higher order of needs (self esteem / self actualization — often referred to as “dream space”) will be depending on our industry to fulfill those needs (see #3 above). “We own the dream space!”
- Weather influences us as much — and sometimes more — than the economy does, in the short run. For the past 12 years, the correlation between U.S. same-store sales and national temperatures was 81.9 percent. Weather variability has an impact on economic activity in every state (GSP) and in every sector. Aggregated over all sectors and states using 70 years of historical weather data, this is estimated to be approximately 3.6 percent of annual GDP, or $260 billion (in 2000 dollars). Agriculture — which has been the sector most studied for weather impacts on specific production for specific crops — is less able to undertake temporal or geographic substitution within a year and thus is one of the most sensitive sectors at 12.1% sensitivity.
- Downturns always create opportunities. Invest in stocks related to pharmaceuticals, energy, banking (yes, banking), construction equipment (Caterpillar), and delivery services (FedEx).
- You can create, buy, and change in troughs better than at peaks. It’s all about your value proposition — why should you buy from me? Shout your differentiation from the rooftop!
- The long-term credit market is loosening up, albeit slowly. The Fed is expected to hold the fed funds rate in its current 0 to 1/4% range for the next year.
- “It is always the adventurers who do great things, not the sovereigns of great empires.” Charles de Montesquieu
- Fear keeps us average.
See what I mean about it being a great meeting! If you missed it, you really missed a good one. Here’s a silver lining though — you can listen to my recorded sessions by clicking here. Wish you could have heard the other guys though!